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Multisite musculoskeletal pain in adolescence as a predictor of medical and social welfare benefits in young adulthood: The Norwegian Arctic Adolescent Health Cohort Study.

Eur J Pain; 21(10): 1697-1706, 2017 Nov.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28685909


Pain in adolescence is associated with mental health problems, the main reason for work disability in young adults. This study explores the relationship between multisite musculoskeletal pain in adolescence and later medical (sickness and medical rehabilitation benefits) and social welfare benefits, adjusted for sociodemographic, adolescent psychosocial and mental health problems.


Data were obtained by linkage between the National Insurance Registry (2003-11) and the Norwegian Arctic Adolescent Health Study, a school-based survey in North Norway (2003-05), accepted by 3987 fifteen- to sixteen-year-olds (68% of the total population). The start of the follow-up time was July 1st of the corresponding year the participants responded to the health study. Musculoskeletal pain was measured by the number of musculoskeletal pain sites.


We found a positive linear relationship between adolescent musculoskeletal pain sites and the occurrence of medical and social welfare benefits in young adulthood (p ≤ 0.001). Adolescent musculoskeletal pain was a significant predictor of sickness (p < 0.001) and social welfare benefits in females (p = 0.036), when adjusted for adolescent psychosocial and mental health problems. The most important adolescent psychosocial predictors were externalizing problems, less parental involvement and adverse life events.


Adolescent multisite musculoskeletal pain was found to be an important predictor of later sickness and social welfare benefit receipt from adolescence to young adulthood.


Adolescents with multisite musculoskeletal pain are at substantially increased risk of health and social difficulties into young adulthood. Identification and interventions for these adolescent problems could alleviate this risk and be a sound socioeconomic investment.